A few years ago I was asked to speak at the church I used to attend. I was asked to share something I had recently learned in my walk with Christ. It was as eye opening experience because I had no idea how tough it was to prepare to speak at church, nor less twice a week as most pastors do. It’s a tremendous amount of effort just to put together one talk. I couldn’t imagine putting together 2 each week. Here’s some unsolicited advice: encourage your pastors. Pray for your pastors. You may not realize how much they need that unless you are asked to speak as well some day.
Anyway, here’s what I spoke about on July 1, 2010. It is based on a concept I had learned from listening for many years to podcasts by Greg Koukl, the president of Stand to Reason. May you be encouraged:
“I am going to reference several places in the Bible, but I would like you to put your finger in 2 places: 1 Peter 1 and Ephesians 1.
First, though, I would like to lay a foundation for tonight’s topic by reading to you the parable of the wheat and the tares, as recorded by Matthew.
The Parable of the Weeds
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds? ’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this. ’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them? ’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn. ’”
At the last men’s meeting, it was emphasized about how God is in control. I agree with such a conclusion, and it is confirmed in Acts 17:26.
While addressing the Greek philosophers at a meeting at the Areopagus in Athens, the Apostle Paul offers much insight about the truth of reality. During his address, Paul reveals how God is in control:
“From one man he (God) made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he (God) determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”
I believe that God has determined ahead of time where and when each of us should live, with respect to the location, and timeline, of His creation. I believe that God has not only planted us, but He has also allowed discomfort or tares to grow up around us, in order to mature our faith in Him. But most important, I believe that God desires to be glorified through our willingness to acquiesce to Him in causing us to bloom amongst those tares.
Have you ever asked:
What is God’s purpose for my life? Or, what does God want me to do in this situation? Or, which option does God want me to choose?
These are very important, deep and personal, but fair questions which we should ask. But, are they as difficult to answer as we may sometimes think?
I do believe that, yes, when attempting to answer such questions, the answer does sometimes depend on the situation one is in, or the trial one faces. But I also believe that there exists a simple application principle, which we should use, when faced with such inquiry. Peter offers us a very simple guideline to live by as Christians, which I believe helps us to answer such important questions.
Let’s turn to 1 Peter 1:3-16.
1 Peter 1:3-16
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”
Now here’s the simple answer:
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober- minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.””
I believe that Peter is basically saying to us, “Look, now that you are a Christian, it is now your responsibility to be Holy, despite being surrounded by the tares growing around you.” Or more simply put, “Just bloom, where you where planted.”
I learned this year, that my ministry is my 3 children. The spring time in our house is very taxing, because of baseball. Last year, in 2009, we were involved with 3 baseball teams. My oldest, Nick, played on 2 teams, one a travel team, and the other an “in-house” team, while my middle, Jack, also played on an “in-house” team. I was also an assistant coach on all three teams.
Between games, practices, tournaments, and travel, our family spends more time with non-Christian families during the spring than any other time of the year… and it kills me. My guilt was so strong at the end of last season, because we had been so consistently absent from my church family, that I told my wife, Jen, that we were not going to have Nick play on 2 teams next year, and that we would not re-enroll Jack:
1) Because Jack’s heart was not really in it like Nick’s.
2) Just to highlight the previous point, what kind of Christians are we anyway, spending more time with non-church families as opposed to our church family?
Well… I was satisfied with my “man of the house”, spiritual leading, sovereign decree. I felt Godly and puffy. Then, a bombshell several weeks later. Jack announced that he would like to play baseball again next season… but only if I managed the team.
Now, managing a team was the last thing I wanted to do. I manage at work, so the last thing I want to do is manage when I’m off. Plus, I had made my Godly, sovereign decree to downsize our baseball involvement for the sake of the church, and now Jack was requesting that I go against it? My knee-jerk reaction was ‘no’… No way, no how.
But then, Jen said that this is was a once in a lifetime opportunity… And, that I would regret it if I did not make the commitment…
So now, the guilt started. Then she added the biggest blow of all:
“Jack will only be this age once.”
Now, what do I do?
Ok, she was right. I mean, was I really prepared for that future conversation where Jack yells at me when he’s forty, saying that the reason for the tailspin his life was because I refused to manage him during a season of baseball when he was 8? Yes, I was being dramatic, but this is how I think, and I needed to be knocked off of my “Godly Decree Pedestal” anyway. I prayed to God and asked Him to forgive me for further committing myself to baseball, and being un-Holy.
Then, I remembered my favorite radio apologist Greg Koukl, reminding his listeners to just bloom where you are planted. It was as though God was saying to me:
“Bloom where I plant you.”
Reluctantly, I agreed to fulfill Jack’s request.
I now admit to having an attitude like Jonah, at Jack’s first game:
It was the middle of the third inning and we were about to bat, when Jack approached me wanting to share something. Now I, of course, was in the middle of trying to figure out the all of fairest permutations of defense configurations, in order to keep every player and parent happy for the duration of the 6 inning battle offensive, and Jack’s attempt at conversation was not a part of that plan.
Basically, I was a jerk.
Jack then proceeded to have a melt down.
He threw his mitt at me, told me that he was not going to bat, yelled at me that he was quitting the team, and then he hid behind a tree announcing that he wanted to leave.
I don’t think that I had ever been more stunned.
So, of course, I pulled an Adam… and threw gasoline on the fire. I blamed my wife for talking me into the unholy act of managing the team.
Jen, God bless her, having the wise insight as to what was happening, immediately forgave me and decided to just remove Jack from the situation… and take him home.
So, here I was, in the middle of the third inning, stuck with managing a team I did not want to manage, where I caused my son to feel like crud, to the point where he threw his mitt at me, yelled at me, wanted to quit, and wanted to leave, plus I then had the gall to then blame my wife.
The rest of the game was a complete fog. The team lost 10-3. I was a complete idiot and I don’t think that I have ever felt worse about myself. All at once I was a lousy father, husband, coach, and example. Four things I had prided myself in being good at. But this experience was a wake-up call… from God.
It was time to bloom where God had planted me.
On the way home, I realized that I needed to make things right with Jack, to be willing to accept the consequences of my actions, and to continue on the path that God had provided for me to travel on.
With a tear in my eye, I went up to Jack’s room where he was lying on his bed. I got on my knees and apologized for being such an idiot. To my amazement, he accepted my apology. And then, even more amazing, he said that he would not quit the team. I explained to him that everyone makes mistakes in life, but it is more important to acknowledge such mistakes and to ask for forgiveness. So, I thanked him for accepting my apology.
He said that I should not worry about it, because, in typical Jack fashion, he shrugged it off and said, “God let this happen.”
I have never been so proud of Jack.
Needless to say, we went on to win the next 8 of 10 games, clinching the second seed spot in the play-offs, and then won our way to the final championship game. However, we lost 3-0 in the final to the undefeated, first place team.
One week earlier Jack had given up only one walk, but then struck out the side during his one inning of pitching in the all-star game (which we won).
I want to conclude by reading Ephesians 1:3-11. This is from Paul to the Ephesians, but I believe that it applies to us as well, and it sums up this topic nicely:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
God predestines when and where we are to be planted. I believe that it is always our job, as Christians, to be willing to allow God to cause us bloom, in order that He may be glorified, regardless of the tares growing around us.”
I encourage you to bloom where God has planted you.
Godspeed, to the brethren!
FOLLOW theidolbabbler.com ON TWITTER!!Follow @theidolbabbler